Mary Parkes cannot get her son back, but she has made a lifetime commitment to ending the cause of his death.

For the last 14 years, Parkes has worked with Mothers Against Drunk Driving Sarnia-Lambton, raising awareness about the “totally preventable” tragedies that happen on local roadways.

Her son Michael was the victim of such a tragedy when the 40-year-old and his real estate partner Gary Abbey, 55, were killed in a drunk driving collision Nov. 7, 1997.

“I miss him still,” Parkes said. “You never get over the lost of loved ones for sure, especially one who had so much more life to live.”

But she has managed to find both support and a new calling thanks to MADD.

On Thursday night, fellow family and friends of drunk driving victims gathered at the Point Edward Optimist Hall for an annual candlelight vigil.

“We’re gathering more people every year,” said Parkes, who coordinated the event with Suzanne Oliver.

MADD will kick off its annual holiday campaign targeting drunk driving Nov. 8. This year, the entrance of Lambton College will be home to its annual display of crosses representing the number of Canadians expected to be killed by drunk drivers during the holiday season.

The annual MADD tolls will follow later in the month. Last year, a total of $12,200 was raised through the voluntary donation program.

November and December are specifically targeted for awareness efforts because they have the highest incidence of drunk driving fatalities, Parkes noted.

“When I first heard that, it blew me away because you’re celebrating something so wonderful and then it brings a tragedy with the impairs,” Parkes said.

So she continues to raise awareness one candle at a time.

“I just say it’s a lifetime commitment for me.”

Obtained from